TheOptimizationIdiot - 12:13 am on Apr 19, 2013 (gmt 0)
Any perspective on this?
If we look at the AOL click data leak, I think it's simple math.
Most people can't tell the difference between the ads and the organics because of the design Google uses. So, by adding another ad or two to the top of the page and drawing people's attention to the ads on the right for localized business searches with the floating map, they generate more clicks.
As the ads become more targeted and "refined" by advertisers, those ads generate more clicks. They don't need to "manipulate the order the organic results are displayed in based on advertising revenue" to get more clicks on the ads, all they have to do is add another AdWords ad to the top of the results, because when most of the users can't tell what's paid and what's not (or don't care) then the number of ads displayed becomes a huge factor since we know for at least one result set 54.5% of queries result in clicks.
42.1% go to the number 1 result.
11.9% go to the number 2 result.
8.5% go to the number 3 result.
All they have to do to increase revenue without manipulating the order of the organic results based on advertising revenue since most visitors don't care if it's an ad or organic as long as they find the answer on the page is put more ads on the top of the page, and based on positional click-thru rate, they will increase revenue.
They could easily have increased their revenue by the % they did simply by moving some of the ads from the right side of the results to the top so they display 3 or 4 ads at the top for queries they used to only display 1 or 2 ads above the organics and drawing more attention to the ads on the right with the floating map shown for some queries. They really don't need to "change the order of" or "dumb down" the organics to make more money, because their design "blends" ads into organics very well, most users don't care which it is, and, based on the data leaked by AOL, users are more inclined to click what's at the top of the page than lower down.